Amherst Magazine

Robert Simpson Charles, III
Robert Simpson Charles, III

I remember Bob playing the ukulele in the Deke bar. We sang along, and I remember wishing I had such a talent. Since he was my roommate, I sometimes borrowed it and tried to make sense of the chords. I never did. Bob died on October 17, following a two-year bout with throat cancer. None of us in the Class knew, but the reason for his absence at the last Reunion was that he and Carol were at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston , TX , where Bob's brother-in-law; John Mendelsohn, is the president.

Bob loved having fun, going to Amherst, and meeting Carol Schellenberg, Smith '59. The day Bob died was Carol and Bob's 45th wedding anniversary. At Amherst , Bob majored in geology in preparation for his eventual career with Hydro Group, Inc., a water supply construction company in Bridgewater , NJ , that was started by his grandfather. Between Amherst and Hydro Group, Bob served with the army corps of engineers, where he spent six months in Greenland performing Polar research which further honed his skills for his career in which his last assignment was chairman of me board and CEO of Hydro Group.

When one of our classmates dies, we often think back to those nostalgic years of fun, fears, laughs, and tears. (We forget the pre-exam anxieties and those long nights trying to study in those smoke-filled library stacks.) Charlie Butler remembers the late night several fellow Dekes decided to ski down the hill in back of the Deke House. Bob fell at the end of one of his runs but brushed himself off and made several more. The next morning he couldn't get out of bed because his leg was broken! The Dekes were tough, and he was a tough Deke. Bob Asher remembers the fateful spring vacation of '56 when twelve Dekes charted a 72-foot yacht to sail from Key West to Havana . It was a stormy night, and the waves were sloshing over the decks. Bob (Charles) was seen washing over the deck, where he managed to grab onto a stanchion, thereby allowing the others to pull him back on board, proving once more that he was one tough Deke.

Bob was active in his civic life, serving on the board of directors of the Pocono Lake Preserve, PA, and Cornell Iron Works, Mountain Top, PA. He was also president of the Short Hills Association and a member of the Short Hills Club, Short Hills , NJ .

When we knew Bob during those golden years of yesteryear, we knew him as being from London , Ontario . However, his obituary in the local Star-Ledger showed that he was born in Saigon , Vietnam . I don't think many of us had heard of that town back then, but within a decade, we would know it well.

We, of the Class of 1957, extend our condolences to Carol; their children, Wendy Maguire and Barry Charles; Bob's sister Anne Mendelsohn; and grandchildren, Robert Michael, Erin Louise, and Colin Patrick.

-Chuck Evans '57

 

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